Tag Archives: John McCain

Not all in GOP are buying into Nunes memo

I am happy to acknowledge that the Republican Party’s ranks of power players aren’t singing off the same hymnal page as it regards Russian interference in our electoral process.

Donald John Trump and many of his GOP “friends” in Congress have released a memo that accuses the FBI of bias in its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., isn’t one of them.

He has released a blistering statement telling Trump that the memo is doing “Putin’s job for him.”

McCain’s statement, issued prior to the release of the memo from the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican members, said, in part: “In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy,” McCain said. “Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro and beyond.”

According to the Huffington Post: McCain said Russia’s interference has, at best, sown political discord and succeeded in “dividing us from each other.” Attacking the intelligence community is not how to fix the discord, he said.

I am acutely aware of Sen. McCain’s longstanding antipathy toward Donald J. Trump. The then-GOP presidential candidate disparaged McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War. The men haven’t made peace yet.

That doesn’t diminish the importance of what McCain is saying about the release of the memo, written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. The intelligence community opposed its release, as did the FBI leadership.

McCain wrote further: “The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests ― no party’s, no President’s, only Putin’s,” McCain added. “The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel (Robert) Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

This is not how you protect the interests of the people you were elected to govern, Mr. President.

Hoping that Sarah remains MIA

Not quite five years ago, I posted a blog item that discussed the departure of former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin from the Fox News Channel.

That was in 2013. She is still missing in action.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t wish her to be found. I prefer the national discussion to be void of Sarah Palin’s voice.

Fox says, “So long, Sarah”

The government is shut down. Donald J. Trump — whom Palin endorsed early in his presidential run — is making a mess of the presidency.

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee has been silent. It’s not that I miss hearing her. It’s just that after Fox cut her loose I feared she wouldn’t go away quietly.

Silly me. I believe she has.

Yeah, some of her adult children continue to get mixed up in entanglements with the law on occasion. Her son, Track, recently got into a big-time beef with his father — Sarah’s husband — that allegedly involved a firearm.

Palin does hold a kind of special place in our recent political history. She made huge headlines when she joined Sen. John McCain on the GOP ticket in 2008. She became an immediate star. Her stardom lasted for just a little while and began to fade when it became apparent to millions of Americans that Sen. McCain’s desire to shake up his race for the presidency turned out to be, um, a big mistake.

The past is past. The present day has produced a different type of political climate dominated by another highly unconventional politician. I refer to the president of the United States.

My hunch is that Donald Trump wouldn’t dare tolerate another politician hogging the limelight. Just maybe, Sarah Palin has gotten the message.

Sen. Flake launches well-aimed barrage against …

He didn’t mention his target by name or even by title, but everyone who heard U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech today know of whom he spoke.

Flake, the lame-duck Arizona Republican, was talking about Donald John Trump Sr., president of the United States.

Flake’s scathing remarks spoke to an assault on the truth by the “most powerful person in government.” Yes, he called the president a liar.

He also scorched Trump for his ongoing assault on the media and lambasted him for undermining a valuable institution charged with holding government accountable for its actions.

Here is Flake’s speech.

Flake’s speech came just a day after his Arizona colleague, Sen. John McCain, wrote in a Washington Post commentary that Trump needs to stop his criticism of the media and stop invoking the “fake news” criticism of those media reports with which he disagrees.

The White House response was quite predictable. It spoke of the lousy poll numbers staring Flake in the face, which many have said caused him to announce his retirement from the Senate at the end of the year; he won’t stand for re-election.

Of course, the poll numbers retort dodges the point that Flake sought to make. Which is that Donald Trump has torn the truth to shreds with his constant prevarication and his frontal assault on those whose job is to report to the public about what the public’s government is doing for — or to — the people to whom those in government must answer.

Here’s a final thought …

If congressional Republicans are going to criticize how the president has conducted himself while in office, shouldn’t they mention him by name?

I mean, they chewed former President Barack Obama out for failing to mention the words “radical Islamic terrorists” as he spoke about the nation’s ongoing war against terrorism.

We all know about whom Sen. Flake was referring. He should have mentioned his name just to remove any smidgen of doubt.

I’ll close with these words from Jeff Flake himself: We are a mature democracy – it is well past time that we stop excusing or ignoring – or worse, endorsing — these attacks on the truth. For if we compromise the truth for the sake of our politics, we are lost.

Well stated, senator.

Listen to this ‘hero,’ Mr. President

John McCain quite likely is spittin’ into the wind.

But he is as correct as he can be. Donald J. Trump must stop attacking the media. Sen. McCain believes the president of the United States is giving political cover to repressive regimes abroad who seek to do the very same thing that Trump is doing — which is discrediting the media.

McCain writes in The Washington Post: “This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase ‘fake news’ — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens.”

Of course, Trump isn’t likely to heed words of wisdom from a man he once denigrated, calling him a Vietnam War “hero” only because “he was captured” and held as a prisoner by North Vietnam for more than five years.

Does the president get this? Does he give a damn about the damage he does when he declares the media to be the “enemy of the American people”? Does the president understand the traditional role that the media play in ensuring government accountability?

I’m pretty sure it be would “no!” on all three questions.

Which makes Sen. McCain’s plea all that more poignant.

Even if it is futile.

Frightening.

Free press: enemy of dictators, not the ‘people’

John McCain speaks with authority when he discusses freedom, the media, authoritarian regimes and liberty.

He lost more than five years of freedom at the hands of captors who held him in bondage during the Vietnam War.

He came home and stayed in service to his country, entering politics. He now serves in the U.S. Senate; he ran twice unsuccessfully for president of the United States. He now is held in high regard for his wartime heroism, his principled public service and his brave battle against cancer.

Comments he made earlier this year were rebroadcast today. He told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd that Donald Trump’s assaults on the media are destructive to our democratic system and they undermine one of the principles on which this country was founded.

Sen. McCain noted that the president’s bullying of the media and his habit of calling out individual journalists is counterproductive in the extreme.

He joked with Todd that he might “hate you,” but the country needs the media to be free of intimidation and it must be allowed to do its job without the kind of bullying that’s coming repeatedly from the president and his White House team.

Yet, the president insists on attacking the media. He continues to curry favor with the Fox News Channel while condemning the work being done by other media. Why? It’s obvious that Fox tilts toward the president and declines to ascribe much critical analysis of his policies. The network appears to many eyes — mine included — to be fulfilling Trump’s insatiable desire to be complimented, to be admired.

That’s not the role the media are supposed to play. The nation’s founders said a “free press” must not be controlled by the government in any fashion. They wrote it down, codifying it in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This independence enables the media to do their job. It allows them to hold public officials at all levels accountable. If they speak untruths, the media are compelled to call them on it.

Finally, they cannot be coerced into shying away from their responsibility because politicians — even the president — like to label them as “fake news.”

John McCain is far from the only contemporary politician who understands this tenet. The problem is that the country’s most powerful politician — the president — is poisoning the political process by trying to intimidate the media, which must remain free of such pressure.

As Sen. McCain told Todd: Trump’s bullying of the media is the conduct of a dictator.

Former VPOTUS offers a teachable moment for all pols

Joe Biden has this way of comforting those who are in pain.

The former vice president demonstrated that remarkable skill the other morning on a live TV show I was watching with my wife.

Vice President Biden was visiting the set of “The View,” the all-woman gabfest that features guests to talk about “hot topics” and other matters. One of the co-hosts happens to be Meghan McCain, daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who lost that presidential election to Biden’s running mate, Barack H. Obama.

Sen. McCain is fighting glioblastoma, a virulent form of brain cancer. The senator’s daughter began discussing Biden’s recent book in which he talks about the disease, which claimed his son, Beau, in 2015. Meghan started crying. She apologized to the former VP, who then swapped chairs with “View” co-host Sunny Hostin. He grasped Meghan McCain’s hands, offering her comfort as she told him how she thinks of Beau Biden daily while her father wages the fight of his life against cancer.

Biden told her to never give up hope. He urged her to follow her dad’s example of courage in the face of daunting challenge. He also sought to encourage Meghan by telling her of medical advancements that are being made in the fight to quell the disease Sen. McCain is battling.

What’s more, the vice president sought to tell Meghan McCain that her father is the politician who understands that political foes — such as Biden and McCain were during their time together in the Senate — need not be enemies. He told her his son, Beau, admired Sen. McCain’s “courage,” the type he demonstrated while being held captive during the Vietnam War.

Biden also reminded Meghan that her father was always there for those on the other side of the political divide. He spoke of his longstanding friendship with Sen. McCain.

The lesson here is obvious.

Democrats and Republicans in today’s political environment too often demonize each other. By that I mean they question their patriotism, their love of country, their motivation. Joe Biden sought to tell the daughter of one of his best Senate friends that her dad does not operate that way.

It’s a lesson I wish fervently would somehow sink in on both sides of the gaping chasm that separates the political parties operating in Washington — under the Capitol Hill dome and inside the walls of the White House.

McCain to Hillary: Cool it with the criticism

John McCain knows the pain of losing a presidential election.

Accordingly, he has offered the most recent presidential election loser a bit of solid advice, although I disagree with the manner in which he delivered it.

The Arizona Republican U.S. senator has told Hillary Rodham Clinton to clam up, that she shouldn’t be so highly critical of the man who defeated her for the presidency. “One of the almost irresistible impulses you have when you lose is to somehow justify why you lost and how you were mistreated: ‘I did the right thing! I did!’” Trump told Esquire Magazine. “The hardest thing to do is to just shut up.”

He added: “What’s the f—–g point? Keep the fight up? History will judge that campaign, and it’s always a period of time before they do. You’ve got to move on. This is Hillary’s problem right now: She doesn’t have anything to do.”

Ouch, man!

McCain can’t claim to have remained silent about the man who beat him in 2008. He returned to the Senate after Barack Obama thumped in the race for the White House. He used his public office to criticize the president’s policies. To me, he did sound a little sour-grapy at times, but I understand his position as a member of the “opposing party” while sharing governing responsibility with the president.

Clinton’s situation is drastically different. She isn’t holding a public office. Sen. McCain notes that, too, suggesting that she could have waited a good while before publishing her book — “What Happened” — that chronicles her version of why she lost the 2016 election.

I say all this without apologizing for a moment that I supported her election as president — and I would do so again if she were to face Donald Trump a second time in a presidential election.

I just hope she doesn’t run again.

As for John McCain, he is in the midst of the fight of his life and it has not a damn thing to do with politics or policy. By my reckoning, his battle against cancer gives his remarks even more gravitas.

Military must face a ‘systemic’ problem

Congress is weighing in on an important issue that appears to have been a primary cause of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, massacre.

The monster who opened fire this past Sunday at First Baptist Church was able to purchase the weapon he used because of a failure by the U.S. Air Force to log his criminal background.

There’s this statement from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican: “News that the Air Force failed to notify the FBI of (the shooter’s) military criminal record is appalling. … Furthermore, I am concerned that the failure to properly report domestic violence convictions may be a systemic issue.”

And The Hill reports this: “The Senate Armed Services Committee will conduct rigorous oversight of the Department’s investigation into the circumstances that led to this failure,” committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement. “It’s critical that each of the military services take the steps necessary to ensure that similar mistakes have not occurred and will not occur in the future.”

Read The Hill story here

The shooter was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force. His exit was due to his assault against his then-wife and her infant child. The Air Force failed to notify federal authorities of the charge, enabling this bastard to purchase the assault weapon he used to murder 26 parishioners at First Baptist Church.

It appears to be a long-standing failure by the military. The issue is drawing considerable attention by lawmakers.

It’s too early to tell whether they are doing enough, or certainly whether they will do enough to crack down on the carnage that is erupting across the land.

I hope Congress and the president will do more. At least, though, we have begun a discussion about one element of gun violence.

POTUS does the impossible

Donald John Trump has done the seemingly impossible.

He has turned yours truly into a fan of Republicans who — prior to Trump’s ascendance into the presidency — likely wouldn’t get a good word from this blog.

Who … knew?

I’m going to single out three GOP senators briefly.

* John McCain. This man is a hero. He fought bravely during the Vietnam War. He served heroically as a prisoner of war after being shot down. McCain’s valor is beyond dispute. His commitment and love of country cannot possibly be questioned. He’s now fighting for his life against brain cancer.

* Bob Corker. I am less familiar with this fellow. He’s ending his Senate career after just two terms. He’s a conservative. He is a mainstream fellow. He seems intelligent, measured, reasonable.

* Jeff Flake. He, too, is ending his Senate run at the end of next year. He’s another conservative. He’s also a true-blue Republican.

All three of these men have another thing in common. They detest the president of the United States. So do I. Wow! Imagine that. I agree with them — and other lawmakers in both houses of Congress — in their assessment of Trump’s competence.

Donald Trump is not competent enough to do the job to which he was elected. What’s more, he’s not even a real Republican. He is no Democrat, either. He’s a man without a party, or a man with a party he is seeking to craft in his own image.

What an image that would be, yes?

A fellow inherits a stake from his wealthy father; he invests it in real estate development; he makes a ton of money. Then he ventures into beauty pageant management/ownership. Then he becomes host of a reality TV show.

Oh, then he marries three women, produces five children with all three of them. He cheats on his first two wives — and brags about it! He admits to groping women and grabbing them by their, um … oh, you know. He mimics a disabled reporter. He disparages a Gold Star family. He hides his tax returns from public review.

Trump doesn’t know how to govern. His “fellow Republicans” do understand how run the government. They are frustrated, angry and mortified at the so-called “leadership” coming from the White House.

I am on their side in this growing dispute.

The common denominator who has brought me to the Republicans’ side? He sits in the Oval Office.

McCain afraid? Of Trump?

Take a bow, Sunny Hostin. You’ve just asked the most preposterous post-2016 presidential election question yet.

Hostin is a co-host of “The View,” the show that features a panel of women who sit around and gab about the “hot topics” of the day. Their guest today was U.S. Sen. John McCain, whose daughter, Meghan, has just joined the lineup of “The View.”

She asked the senator if he is “afraid of” Donald Trump, who has drawn a lot of fire from McCain over this and that issue since he became president The question drew howls of laughter from the audience — and from the senator!

“I mentioned that I had faced greater challenges,” McCain eventually replied once he stopped laughing.

Challenges?

Let’s see, how has the senator fared over the course of his life?

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Then he flew fighter jets during the Vietnam War. He got shot down over Hanoi in 1967. McCain was held captive for more than five years. He was tortured, beaten to within an inch of his life; he was held in isolation for months at a time.

McCain would be released in 1973. He ran for Congress, landing eventually in the Senate. He ran for president twice, losing the Republican primary in 2000 to George W. Bush and the 2008 general election to Barack H. Obama.

Oh, and then there’s this: He’s now fighting brain cancer with what I am believing is an iffy prognosis. Sen. McCain is in the middle of the fight of his life. Yet he is proceeding courage and is exhibiting the same fighting spirit he revealed when he was held by vicious enemy captors.

Is he afraid of Donald J. Trump — a man who knows not a damn thing about the kind of sacrifice that servicemen and women such as McCain have given to their country?

I cannot say this enough about Sen. McCain. I more often disagree with his policy positions than I agree with them. However, he embodies the very definition of courage.

I didn’t hear Hostin pose the question in real time, but I’ll presume she offered it in good faith.

The senator’s reaction speaks volumes about his opinion of the president of the United States.